New York’s Appellate Division recently recognized that a disabled employee working in New York may be entitled to take extended medical leave under the New York State and New York City Human Rights Law.
The case involved Deborah Phillips, a civil service employee for New York City’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS). After Ms. Phillips had worked for DHS for 18 years, she took a 3 month medical leave for a serious medical condition, stage III breast cancer. Ms. Phillips asked her employer to extend her medical leave for a full year. DHS denied her request because she had exceeded her entitlement to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and was ineligible for additional unpaid medical leave under the Department’s policy. DHS told her that if she did not return to work by October 30, 2006, the date on which she originally agreed to return to work, she would be subject to disciplinary action, or fired.
Ms. Phillips then asked DHS if she could take any additional medical leave. The City denied her request, again telling her that if she did not to return to work by October 30, she would be fired and would lose her medical benefits. Ms. Phillips did not return to work, and DHS eventually fired her.